Dear Abby: My father had a stroke. My siblings and I (there are three of us) needed someone to look after them, as we all work full time. I asked my stepson, “Miles,” who was living in Tennessee, if he could help us by moving to Washington state and taking care of Dad during the day (Miles works nights), seeing that It happened that Dad needed 24/7 care. My siblings and I didn’t want to keep her in a nursing home.

Within two weeks, Miles had given up on his life in Tennessee and moved across the country to seek help. Since he was helping us, we did not ask him to pay the rent. Their generosity saved us thousands of dollars in nursing home fees, and Dad was so happy to be home.

Dad passed away earlier this year, and my siblings and I are in the process of selling the house. Miles is still living in the house with me because I inherited Dad’s two dogs. He takes care of the dogs and such when I am gone for various reasons. He has helped a lot and I still haven’t asked him to pay the rent considering his sacrifice to meet our needs in times of crisis. The problem is that my sister thinks Miles should pay rent now until the house is sold. My brother and I disagree. My brother says if it’s okay with me, it’s okay with him.

I feel like I’m “paying it forward” for the help Miles has given to not only us, but our father. He earns minimum wage and pays for half the utilities and most of the food. It seems selfish of me to ask her for rent until we sell the house, considering she selflessly gave up her previous life for my family. Am I wrong in not asking him for the rent? We expect to sell the home in six months or less. — Guidance is needed in Washington

dear need: Your stepson is selfless and generous. I don’t think under these circumstances he should be expected to pay to be with you, so stand your ground. However, I think that Miles should seriously consider finding a job that pays him more than “minimum” wage because in six months, once your father’s house is sold, he’ll have money to pay over his head. But a roof will be required. Please encourage her to do so, and if she needs training to reach her goals, encourage her to get it.

Dear Abby: Two of my best friends used to live together and then a rift happened. There was no big bang, but the simmering feelings eventually led one to tell the other she didn’t want to be friends anymore. A few years have passed, and there has been no improvement in their relationship. They have lots of mutual friends, so they know they’ll still see each other occasionally.

I’m a partygoer, and I’ve invited them both. What’s the rule of etiquette here? Should I go out of my way to inform them both that the other is coming? I don’t want to surprise them, but at the same time, I worry that telling them would be a bit dramatic. They are both adults who can deal with it – I guess. — Nervous Hostess in Oregon

Dear hostess: No rule of etiquette dictates that you must run your guest list by potential guests. It is not necessary to raise the subject with either of them. As you said, these people are adults and should be able to handle themselves appropriately. Issue your invitations and enjoy your party.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or at PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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